SoBou. My favorite new seat is at SoBou's bar chef's table, a bottom-lit bump-out that lets me comfortably fit a few cocktails and small plates, and talk easily with SoBou's Abigail Gullo. She and Lu Brow wrote the eclectic menu, which references everything from pirates (a three-rum drink laced with ginger and honey) to spies (the Vesper) to local classics (the Sazerac, made with both cognac and rye whiskey). At the bar chef's table, you'll also hear terrific backstories - Abigail's family, for instance, tapped the very maple syrup that's blended with rye whiskey and lemon in one drink, and scotch, Chartreuse and rosemary in another.
Batch. By the time you read this, the first "batch" of aged cocktails at Batch will be ready. This time around, they include a Manhattan, an old-fashioned, and a bacon-infused vodka; and they will have aged on the premises for about six weeks in charred oak barrels. This chic spot also offers flask service - pours of straight spirits or infusions - that let you add your fill of soda, lemon and ice, tableside. Prefer pre-mixed cocktails? A two-liter mini barrel serves six.
Speakeasy x 3. A trifecta of speakeasies recently popped up in New Orleans. Why and how to follow them for the next round:
Bartenders Steve Yamada and Sam Kane took Alchemy Lounge public with a Pop Shop held at St. Lawrence Restaurant, featuring a quartet of carbonated sodas, including the classic Cuba Libre, and specialty sodas blending bourbon and grape or brandy and Curaçao, and all sparked with CO2. Joining the Alchemy Lounge that night were guest bartenders Geoffrey Wilson and Chris Hannah. Follow Where Y'at's Facebook page to get the date of the next Alchemy Lounge gig.
Dash and Pony is the brainchild of bartenders Ali Mills and Korey Tichenor, whose low-key and cryptic Facebook page adds to their pop-up's mystique. Their latest event, held at a private home in the LGD, offered a fizz, a sour, a long drink, sangría and, in the "strange" category, a riff on Taiwanese bubble tea, using spirit-infused tapioca pearls.
Cure's Nick Detrich tests the waters for his own future tiki bar by helming The Offshore cocktail pop-ups, held at Company Burger (on those nights, Chef Adam Biederman and his kitchen rock really good Polynesian eats). The latest Offshore event featured five tiki drinks, using classic ingredients (falernum, orgeat, grapefruit juice) and intriguing twists (Herbsaint, Irish moonshine). Pre-paid reservations are key, so track the next date on Twitter @OffshoreNOLA.
Bacchanal cocktails. After years of pouring wine, Bacchanal has opened a cocktail bar just outside the garden. Behind the stick, bartender Dean Barbee has put together a short list that plays, for now, mainly with wine and gin. Try one of his signatures, or the classic Viceroy based on pisco, the kicky young grappa that's tamed with nearly an equal amount of citrus Lillet Blanc. It's a touch bitter, and refreshing.
Ice House Bar. Decades ago, my parents honeymooned at the Hotel Provincial. This summer, the hotel opened a bar just off the lobby. The no-frills joint is on the quiet, downriver stretch of Chartres, and runs happy hour specials ($5 well drinks, $6 wines by the glass, and $3 domestic beers) from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. every day but Sunday. There's no signature cocktail, but they'll serve up all the classics (and their Hurricane is done Planter's Punch-style, on the rocks and with a rum float).
Bar R'evolution. The bar menu embraces New Orleans' "seven nations," reflecting Spain with a sherry cobbler; the UK with a fruity Collins; Africa with a daiquiri; Germany with a blend of cherry brandy, sparkling wine and grapefruit liqueur; and Native America is based on blackberry vodka. Housemade ratafias appear in French and Italian cocktails, and Creole culture gets a potent nod with fortified wine, bourbon and cognac.
Toups' new cocktails. When they opened, Toups' Meatery's drinks list was all about wine - not surprising, given that co-owner Amanda Toups once headed W.I.N.O. Now the Mid -City meat shop has added cocktail classics (mezcal-based margarita, a julep) by the glass and a select few by the pitcher. Contemporary craft cocktails include an elderflower homage to PDT's Vieux Mot, and Lillet Blonde blended with vodka.
Bacchanal 600 Poland Ave., 948-9111 Bar R'evolution at the Royal Sonesta, 777 Bienville St., 553-2277
Batch at the Hyatt French Quarter, 800 Iberville St., 586-0800
Company Burger, 4600 Freret, 267-0320 Ice House Bar at the Hotel Provincial, 1024 Chartres St., 581-4995
SoBou at the W New Orleans, 310 Chartres St., 552-4095
St. Lawrence Restaurant, 219 N. Peters St. Toups' Meatery, 845 N. Carrollton Ave., 252-4999